Local Cajun food vendor realizes dream
Bebeaux’s Cajun Food announced Wednesday, April 23, that its chicken and sausage gumbo will now be available at Market Basket stores throughout Southeast Texas.
“Being a local vendor and bringing regional flavor to our stores is a nice addition to our Cajun selection,” said Skylar Thompson, president of Market Basket. “After tasting the quality of the product and seeing the packaging, I thought they would be a good fit for Market Basket.”
The road to having their product sold in a major supermarket chain like Market Basket wasn’t an easy one for Bebeaux’s, said Fred Bebeau, CEO of Bebeaux’s Cajun Food.
“We’ve been working to debut this product for two and a half years,” he said. “We’ve had packaging issues and problems. A lot of things that could go wrong went wrong, but we’re proud of what we have and where we’re at.”
Delays for the new Beaumont-born business came in the form of a January government shutdown, learning the ropes of mass production, and trying to perfect recipes, Fred said.
“We went over and over test batches of samples,” he said. “We went back and forth.”
“I’ve got a low compromise level if it doesn’t taste like what we want,” added Greg Prejean, Freds’s former Monsignor Kelly High School classmate, vice president of operations, and the mastermind behind the Bebeaux’s recipes. “I knew we could get darn, darn close to getting it to taste like it was cooked off our stove at home.”
With the help of Fred Bebeau and Fred’s niece and sales executive Lauren Bebeau, Prejean worked to get the gumbo recipe just right. After 10 months of labor, a breakthrough was made, and the trio’s hard work resulted in the perfect gumbo recipe.
“We had an epiphany one night,” Prejean said. “I called up Fred and said, ‘Oh my God, Fred, the sauce is there! I made an adjustment and it’s there.’”
Bebeaux’s will offer three mouthwatering selections : chicken and sausage gumbo, red beans and rice, and shrimp Creole. The first dish consumers will have the opportunity to taste will be its gumbo, Fred said.
“We’re debuting with the gumbo,” he said. “We tried to make it as authentic as we could. It’s got some spice. It’s got some kick … because we want it to stand out.”
“No doubt you can taste the pepper,” Prejean added, regarding the gumbo’s spicy bite. “But there is a difference between tasting the flavor of the pepper spices versus them overpowering and burning you.”
The zest of the gumbo isn’t the only quality that sets Bebeaux’s brand apart from its competitors. Each spoonful is filled with large chunks of savory chicken and Zummo’s Andouille sausage.
“The cayenne and seasoning from the Andouille sausage accentuates it,” Prejean said.
“It’s a hearty meal,” Fred added. “We’ve definitely got protein in the product.”
Specifically designed for cooking purposes, Andouille is even more highly seasoned and courser ground than Zummo’s original smoked sausage recipe, according to the Zummo Meat Company’s website. These qualities make it ideal for adding to red beans and rice, gumbo, or any other dish that calls for sausage.
“I think it blows everybody else’s away,” Fred said.
Prejean, a retired Beaumont law enforcement officer, said the recipes come straight from the Bayou State and from his and his wife’s families.
“My momma is a hardcore South Louisiana gal,” he said. “My dad’s family is from Church Point, La., and my wife Denise’s family is from St. Martinsville, La. I’ve been interested in cooking since my momma put me on the stool to stir the roux when I was about four or five years old while she cut the vegetables.”
Fred Bebeau, a physician’s assistant, spent his young adult years working at Zummo’s Meat Company, where he learned the ins and outs of food distribution from his brother-in-law, Frank Zummo, president of Zummo Meat Co., a fixture of Southeast Texas since 1908. Zummo will distribute Bebeaux’s line of products, Fred said.
When Zummo tried the gumbo recipe and liked it, Fred said he knew the gumbo was ready to go public.
“Overall, the response has been really positive,” he said. “We’re really excited about it!”
For more information on Bebeaux’s Cajun Food, visit www.bebeauxscajunfood.com
Keep an eye out for Bebeaux’s at your local Market Basket store, the company will be demoing its gumbo in stores across the Golden Triangle.